IN the wake of positive news this week regarding coronavirus vaccinations, and Live Nation CEO saying that they hope for live music “shows at scale” to return by the summer, it is vital that complacency and does not supplant solidarity in our fight to keep the music industry alive.
Back in July, a 1.57 billion Culture Recovery Fund was made available to British cultural institutions to help weather the storm of the pandemic. This was of course welcome news, and in England the 89% success rate of applications for the fund offered a crucial lifeline to many beloved venues. Meanwhile in Scotland 12.5m was made available to performing arts venues with a further 2.2m made available to grassroots music venues.
However, many of our favourite pre-covid haunts still face the threat of permanent closure, and if the UK government’s patronising and insulting “Rethink. Reskill. Reboot” campaign has taught us anything, it’s that our multi-billion pound industry lies low on their list of priorities. Simply put, our world is not their world.
The Music Venue Trust has published a list of 30 venues across the UK that were unsuccessful in their applications for grant money, or did not receive enough to survive until they can once again open their doors to the public. On that list are four Scottish venues:
The Gellions (Inverness)
The Gellions is the oldest licensed premises in Inverness and has been trading since 1841. For years, they’ve been championing local talent from the Highlands. “We book more Scottish music than any venue in the world,” owner and director Gavin Stevenson told NME. “We booked over 600 live gigs last year and we’re a critical asset to the live music scene of the Highlands. We provide regular employment to dozens of local musicians.
“We’re not able to trade our normal hours, we’re not able to have live music or even background music in Scotland. With the different COVID safety measures, our capacity is reduced by 75 per cent. We’re a music venue who can’t have music in a tourist town with no tourism. It’s going to be a very challenging winter.”
Hootenany Music Bar (Invernees)
Hootanany in Inverness have shared a crowdfunder. They said “We are an independent family run community music venue without cash reserves, so for us the outbreak of COVID-19 and being unable to have live music or even background music has been a devastating blow.
Hoots supports the livelihood of over 53 people every week including , musicians, DJs, promoters, bar staff, security, kitchen staff, sound engineers, book keeper, cleaners & more. At the moment we are closed every day apart from Saturdays and due to the limitations that does not cover our costs. Due to the ever-changing nature of the government advice, we don’t currently know when we will be able to get back to full capacity, and this something that deeply worries us.”
Venue 38 (Ayr)
Venue38 is a live music and events space offering ticketed live music and entertainment events, themed nights, club nights, comedy nights and grassroots music nights with a capacity of 800, located in South Ayrshire. They too have shared a crowdfunder, stating “Our music venue risks permanent closure because we haven’t been accepted for any of the funding options made available and as we haven’t been allowed to trade since March, we now find ourselves in serious financial difficulty. Your donations will be used to help cover the costs of keeping the Venue viable until we are allowed to let the music play.”
Backstage stage on average 120 gigs per year and have always have an eclectic mix of established and up and coming artists across all genres. They have said “Mundell Music/Backstage have on THREE separate devastating occasions been unsuccessful in triggering a grant that was made available by the Scottish Government but administrated by a third party who deemed us ineligible. Therefore with live Music probably not restarting until April next year at the earliest, we are now asking if you could support our crowdfunding appeal to safeguard our survival so we can again be in a position to re open our incredibly popular live music venue.”
Any donation from you would be most gratefully received and hopefully secure the future of Mundell Music/Backstage so that the popular wide ranges of music can be continued.
Backstage crowdfunder here.
You can donate to the #SaveThe30 campaign via their Crowdfunder campaign here.